One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,028 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements



TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

 


Obtain 10% discount

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No. 1 in g minor ‘Winter Dreams’, Op.13 [41:04]
Symphony No. 2 in c minor ‘Little Russian’, Op.17 [32:58]
Symphony No. 5 in e minor, Op.64 [43:51]
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
rec. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, November 2014
ONYX 4150 [74:06 + 43:51]

Vassily Peternko and the RLPO have already given us the greatest Shostakovich cycle this side of the millennium. This winning team now turn their attention to that other great Russian symphonic cycle: this double disc is the first instalment of what will turn out to be a complete Tchaikovsky set. It’s great, and we should not only relish this set but look forward to the next instalment.

Petrenko’s interpretations are overall characterised by energy, that trait that is so important in Russian Romantic music but which is all too often subsumed in cloying indulgence. No such danger here. Right from the start, the first movement of No. 1 crackles with electricity, more than it conventionally has any right to!  The orchestra gives us the most Russian sounding woodwinds I’ve ever heard coming from this shore (as well as the opening, listen to the clarinet that rings out the second subject), a sign of how great an influence Petrenko has been on them. We also get brilliantly busy string work with crisp, precise tuttis. It's the strings’ turn in the slow movement, with playing of delicate yearning and pellucid tone that is utterly delightful.  The songful cellos and icy violins make for an intoxicating mix, and you'd never imagine this music was being made on Merseyside rather than Moscow. The Scherzo is fleet-footed, with a beautifully elegant waltz, and if the finale takes a while to get going (more the inexperienced composer’s fault than Petrenko’s) then when the G major theme enters in its full glory it blazes marvellously brightly, with vigorous strings and glittering brass on top (and an almost defiant drumroll to finish). This symphony is the ugly duckling in the Tchaikovsky set, but this is the most convincing performance I've heard of it in many a day. This is music Petrenko clearly believes in.

No. 2 has a quietly atmospheric introduction, followed by an allegro of great energy (swagger, even) but with a second subject that provides lyrical relief. The development is particularly splendid, especially the moment where the brass ring out with bell-like clarity over the scurrying strings.  The second movement is distinguished not only by its perky march, but also by the heartfelt sincerity of its string playing. The bustling Scherzo bristles with energy, and the splendid finale begins with a marvellously assertive tutti and culminates in a majestic tam-tam stroke that launches a coda of brilliant energy that only very slightly runs away with itself.

The opening of No. 5 is suitably dark but the main allegro is exciting and well argued, the violins, in particular, showing real persuasive power. The climax at the end of the exposition is really exciting and the development is clipped and impressively precise, as is the biting, incisive coda.  The great horn solo that opens the slow movement is beautifully sweet - cantabile indeed - as are the cellos that follow it. There is a sense of argument here, too, but where the first movement is biting and sharp, this one is gently propulsive, flowing sincerely so that the interruptions of the Fate theme are genuinely unsettling.  The waltz is elegant and suave, if a little understated, and the scurrying Trio section put me in mind of the composer’s ballet music, something I don’t often say.  There is a lovely, big string sound to the opening of the finale that nevertheless always avoids sounding so big as to be ungainly.  As with the first movement, the main allegro picks up the pace, but here the energy and passion is stepped up to a much greater degree. Listen, for example, to the way the Fate theme is barked out by the trumpets as the strings swirl around it: the atmosphere is electric, and by this point the music seems to be generating its own tidal wave of energy. The slow coda then rings out with hymn-like clarity before the fast ending sweeps all before it, though some will find it controversial that he keeps the drumroll going all through the final triplet.

In short, this is a hit. It’s too early to comment on where it fits into the canon of complete Tchaikovsky sets, but this impressed me mightily. Bring on Volume Two!

Simon Thompson
 
Previous reviews: Ian Lace and Brian Wilson

 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

March


piano music Vol 4


Charpentier


Songs of Love and Sorrow


Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN
Cello Concerto


The female in Music

 

February

January


Linda BUCKLEY
From Ocean’s Floor